Spring football at Maryland, Navy and Virginia ends today with major intrasquad games, while Howard has another week of practice before its annual intrasquad finale.
The four head coaches were asked to evaluate the progress of their respective teams.
HOWARD -- "I feel we made good progress. We only have about 59 players out so we were forced to do a lot of group work," said Coach Floyd Keith. "Our main priority was to work on gaining better command of our offense."
Keith said he has seen much improvement on the offensive line, where several veterans returned. With a quicker crew of receivers, a healthy Ronald Wilson at quarterback and a backfield of veteran Cornelius Quarles and Maryland-Eastern Shore transfer to control the ball better and score most points than the 5-6 Bison did a year ago.
Quarles, who was hobbled most of last year, carrying the ball only seven times, and Ennis, who could beat out last year's leading rusher, Greg Banes, are having fine springs.
"Banes pulled a hamstring early and has not had much work," said Keith. "Our injuries have been slight but we did lost both starting tackles, Dennis Speight and Steve Alsbrooks. We also lost about 15 players because of grades and that cut into our depth."
Defensively, Howard should be much improved. Linemen Larry Hamilton, James Garfield, Corky McCorkle, Rodney Frazier (who broke a rib this week) and safety Frederick Wilson are enjoying fine sessions, according to Keith.
"Both lines have shown much improvement," Keith said. "Our secondary should be much better but out linebackers are young."
MARYLAND -- Like Howard, Maryland has used its 20-day session to shore up its offensive line. The Terrapins graduated seven players up front, and Coach Jerry Claiborne wasted little time looking for replacements.
"We haven't settled on our line yet but we've made progress," Claiborne said. "We do have experience from some veterans, including centers Bruce Byrom and Kyle Lorton and guard David Pacella. John Tice, a tight end, is an excellent blocker and will be used some at tackle."
Claiborne has been pleased with the work of his running backs, particularly tailback Charlie Wysocki and fullback Rick Fasano, and receivers Jan Carinci, Mike Lewis, Spencer Scriber and Eric Sievers.
Sievers, a tight end, nose guard Marlin Van Horn and cornerback Lloyd Burruss missed last season with injuries. Those three, considered among the best in the Atlantic Coast Conference, are healthy again and Claiborne is expecting excellent senior years from them.
Mike Tice is expected to be pushed by Brent Dewitz and Bob Milkovich at quarterback. "Our quarterbacks run the ball well but we still have a lot of work to do on our passing game," Claiborne said. "But over all we've had a good spring."
NAVY -- Coach George Welsh's spring has been a nightmare. A total of 21 players have either missed all or part of the sessions because of injuries, including offensive tackle Rich Welch, center Mike Dolan and running backs Mike Sherlock, Kevin Tolbert and Eddie Meyers, who concluded his sophomore season last year with a four-touchdown effort against Army.
"I can't say whether we've had a good or bad spring," said Welsh. "It's been hard to evaluate because of all the injuries. A lot of the starters are out and we have not been able to make the progress I'd like to have made. But we've done some good things and had a chance to see a lot of people."
Three players who got a long look were Fred Reitzel, last year's starting safety, and quarterbacks Tony Colao and Tom Tarquinio.
"That's our No. 1 priority now, replacing Bob Powers," Welsh said. "All three quarterbacks have shown improvements, but I don't know how good we will be at that spot."
Welsh also has been pleased with tight end Curt Gainer; Tackle Steve Chambers, who severely sprained his ankle this week; roverback Chris Boblit; end Greg Papajohn, nose guard Tim Jordan and running back Duane Flowers.
VIRGINIA -- UVA has gone through spring workouts full of optimism, mainly because it is coming off its first winning season in 11 years and returned many big-play people.
Coach Dick Bestwick made a daring move by switching gifted tailback Greg Taylor, who had 933 yards rushing last year, to wide receiver. Taylor's running mate, Tommy Vigorito (1,044), will team up with sophmore-tobe Quentin Walker in the backfield.
"Greg is a quality player at his position, but we had no one returning at split end," Bestwick said. "It looks like it will be a very good move. He is the threat we didn't have last year."
The most hotly contested battle in camp has been at the quarterback spot, where last year's starter, Todd Kirtley, was pushed by Lindsay Dalaney, a transfer from Pitt.
Virginia should be much stronger in both the offensive and defensive lines, where Bestwick has size, strength, experience and depth.
The lines are two of our major strengths," Bestwick said. "They have had a good spring. We've managed to avoid a lot of injuries and got a lot of work done. The only question mark we have at this point is who will punt."